Confident communication was always going to be a broad subject for the first LBN session of the Autumn and it became quite daunting as more and more business women arrived in the room at The Strickland Arms – I think we got up to about 28 in all and everyone probably had slightly different expectations of the evening.
As a starter, it was good to challenge some of the assumptions about confident people – certainly not always noisy and loud. And I think many of us liked the idea of being quietly confident, deliberate in our contributions and with our opinions appreciated.
Lesson one – something that came out of the early brainstorming was confident body language. Upright posture, entering a room with a smile and making eye contact all give an impression of confidence, even if it’s more of a duck or swan calm on the surface with frantic paddling beneath!
The next step was to identify areas of daily life where we feel confident and areas where we don’t. It was immediately obvious that confidence is mixed up with past experience, the unknown, our abilities and our mood. It is hard to separate out the confidence aspect.
But it was also apparent that we’re all different. The things that some find easy and are 100% confident about are real challenges for other people – whether it’s driving in Europe, walking into a party or contributing to a business meeting.
Lesson two – working out exactly what makes you worry about a situation and talking it through with someone else who has dealt with that fear can be a big help. Even someone who has never been worried by it at all can give you useful advice.
Then we moved on to webs and wheels and thought about where we’d rate our confidence on different business communications (and where we’d like it to be):
- Approaching new clients
- Writing about myself
- Public speaking
- Creating social media posts
- Meeting at network events
- Teaching, coaching and leading
Presentations and public speaking are big areas and probably for another occasion but I can recommend a couple of books that might help (see below).
Where we actually focused was on writing about yourself (including aspects of social media posts) and then on developing that snappy, humorous introduction with impact that everyone else in the room seems to do better than you!
Here are a few suggestions for when you’re completely stuck:
Get someone who knows your business well to draft it for you. Not so much that they’ll find it easier to sing your praises and not be embarrassed to blow your trumpet but they’ll almost certainly ask the important questions before they agree to try it – who’ll be reading it and what does that audience need to know about you? Or, even better, start with those questions yourself and see if it comes more easily.
Think of yourself as someone else. Writing about yourself in the third person is just a tool – not intended to make your one-woman band look bigger than it is but a useful way of putting a bit of psychological distance between you and the words you use. Then, once you’re happy with what this person called you can offer, turn it back into the first person “I” before use.
Don’t put yourself under pressure. Coming up with an interesting and succinct description of what you do is hard enough without thinking it has to be funny as well! Think of the two or three key words that you’d want to include, write them down and then see how you might join them together to make sense. Then try saying those words out loud and juggle them about until it sounds like something you could say without cringing! It may not be perfect but you’ve made a start.
Introduce yourself with facts. Who, What, Where and When are great prompts for the first paragraph of a press release but they also work in a networking situation. For example: My name is Sally Seed (Who) and I trade as Stoneleigh Communications (What). I’m based at Orton near Tebay (Where) and I’ve been trading for nearly 11 years (When). It doesn’t tell people a huge amount about what I do but it does give them a few more facts that might offer links or suggest questions – do you know so and so? how long did your journey take? And it’s broken the ice.
There was a lot more that we could probably have covered in the session but I know I already ran over by 10 minutes or so – I hope that people found it useful and picked up tips for the areas where they need to grow their confidence in communications.
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening once I got started – thank you for your support and never underestimate the power of an encouraging comment or a smile and a nod when someone’s presenting and needs a confidence boost. I really appreciated it!
Sally Seed (aka @CommunicatorSal), Stoneleigh Communications
The Art of Shouting Quietly: A guide to self-promotion for introverts and other quiet souls by Pete Mosley www.petemosley.com
… And Death Came Third by Andy Lopata and Peter Roper, published by ecademy press (walking into a room full of strangers and speaking in public were first and second!)
Presentation Skills for Quivering Wrecks by Bob Etherington, published by Marshall Cavendish
Show and Tell: How everybody can make extraordinary presentations by Dan Roam, published by Penguin Business